“How can you be so kanjoos (miser) to be wearing a t-shirt worth just Rs 250?” a friend ridiculed me recently, while showing off his latest Van Heusen shirt worth Rs 2,000.
“Think whatever you want of me, but I am like that only,” I told him. “If I can get a t-shirt worth Rs 250 that I can use for a year, why should I buy anything expensive that would last almost the same time?”
“Wow, and you call this cheapness as enjoying life. Huh!” he continued.
Well, here’s the equation that defines my life as of now…
Just a couple of years back, before I quit my job, my life’s equation read like this…
When you work in a job, and especially when the job relates to the stock market, you are expected to work 60+ hours a week at the barest minimum.
The unsaid agreement my employer had with me was simple – “The more you work, the more I will pay you.”
The unsaid agreement I had with myself was also simple – “The more I will work or pretend to work, the more I will earn, and the more I can spend during weekends.”
In effect, I worked a 60-hour workweek to enjoy life during the 8-hour weekend.
You may be living, or may have been through, a similar life as well.
Before you start cursing yourself on why you are living such a life, like I did two years back, read this amazing post which reveals that your lifestyle is now no more in your hands…it is under someone else’s control.
That “someone” is “big businesses”, who are deliberately cultivating and nurturing in us a lifestyle of unnecessary spending.
As the author writes, “Companies in all kinds of industries have a huge stake in the public’s penchant to be careless with their money. They will seek to encourage the public’s habit of casual or non-essential spending whenever they can.”
He then mentions something so critical that we miss seeing in the rigours of our daily lives…
Big companies didn’t make their millions by earnestly promoting the virtues of their products, they made it by creating a culture of hundreds of millions of people that buy way more than they need and try to chase away dissatisfaction with money.
We buy stuff to cheer ourselves up, to keep up with the Joneses, to fulfill our childhood vision of what our adulthood would be like, to broadcast our status to the world, and for a lot of other psychological reasons that have very little to do with how useful the product really is. How much stuff is in your basement or garage that you haven’t used in the past year?
This vicious cycle of working more to earn more, spend more, and live less is quite simple to understand.
The solution to get out of this vicious cycle is equally easy, only if one has the willingness to work on it.
Of course, you don’t need to leave your job right away to live a life like this. And you don’t need to slog till 40 or 50 to live a life like this.
“I plan to slog till 40 and then retire to live happily ever after,” Hrithik Roshan says in the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.
To this, Katrina Kaif replies, “But how do you know that you will live till 40!”
A deafening silence follows.
You see, we spend precious years of our lives slogging at work, then stay tired, and ignore our health and families. All this because we are always in the pursuit of a lot of money that we can spend in whatever little “free” time we enjoy during weekends.
And, in this pursuit of spending to “enjoy” life during weekends, we forget the real meaning of spending quality time with ourselves and our families.
“Go, get a life instead of worrying about your job and money!” my wife often advised me while I was in two minds of leaving my high-paying job to pursue my low-paying passions.
Thanks to my lucky stars, I took her advice seriously.
In believing what Bertrand Russell wrote in his magnificent essay – In Praise of Idleness – eighty years back, my story as of now is that I work 70% lesser than what I was working two years back, earn 30% lesser, spend 50% lesser, and live 500% more.
Russell wrote it in such a compelling manner…
In a world where no one is compelled to work more than four hours a day…there will be happiness and joy of life, instead of frayed nerves, weariness, and dyspepsia. The work exacted will be enough to make leisure delightful, but not enough to produce exhaustion.
Since men will not be tired in their spare time, they will not demand only such amusements as are passive and vapid. At least one per cent will probably devote the time not spent in professional work to pursuits of some public importance, and, since they will not depend upon these pursuits for their livelihood, their originality will be unhampered, and there will be no need to conform to the standards set by elderly pundits.
Modern methods of production have given us the possibility of ease and security for all; we have chosen, instead, to have overwork for some and starvation for others. Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines; in this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish forever.
A lot of people around me think that because I don’t seem to work and that I’m cheap (simple clothes, small car etc.), I don’t really enjoy life.
In fact, it’s just the opposite. Because I don’t need to spend a lot of money to enjoy life, I don’t need to spend a lot of time getting a lot of money.
I have no right to advise you on how you should live your life, but I just want to share that the mantra that has worked for me so magnificently is insanely simple…
In simple words, to get more out of life, I am willing to settle for less.
Less work. Less money. Less spending. Less emotion with money. More time for life.
At the end of it, my bank account may still seem inadequate for all that money can help me buy, but I know my life will be far, far richer.
I wish the same for you.